The WA house completely made of straw
WHEN it comes to building in WA, brick and tiles are usually the order of the day.
But a growing number of people are turning their back on the basics - like this one defying tradition.
You’d never guess by looking at it, but this house is made of straw.
It’s held up by a timber frame, stacked like bricks, kept in place by wire and finished with a lime render.
Owner builder Sara Mason set out to make it look like a heritage home.
“The best compliment I’ve had is someone came in and said, ‘when did you renovate?’ Because I wanted it to feel old,” she said.
She also wanted it to feel comfortable year round. The home is solar passive, there’s no air conditioning and only a woodfire for heating.
That’s helped by an amazing earth tube, that runs underneath the foundation, and keeps air moving.
“Occasionally it gets a bit hot and we might put on a fan but it’s certainly quite liveable,” said Sarah. “It’s stunning really.”
Built in a paddock on a farm near New Norcia, 130 kilometres north of Perth, connecting to the grid was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars - so they didn’t bother.
“We’re completely off-grid, we’re basically an island,” said Sara.
“It is very lovely not to have power bills. It’s also just - we don’t have power outages either,” she said.
There’s also no water bill.
With no suitable groundwater on the farm, rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in a 250,000 litre tank.
It’s not just practical, but beautiful, with some of the home’s more unique features developed on the go.
“Things evolved depending on what was happening at the time, what materials we had,” said Sara.
“A lot of the big window sills came from the great northern highway realignment because there were some big trees getting knocked down and they were going to mulch them.”
Almost all the rest of the timber is recycled.
The trusses and the floorboards came from the Bindi Bindi Hall that had to be demolished due to maintenance issues.
The windows in the office came from an old house in Fremantle and the big timbers around the bifolds were sourced from the North Fremantle wharf.
There are so many amazing ideas - inside, outside, on the roof, underground and in the garden.
Not only is everything native, but Sara has specifically chosen Carnaby’s cockatoo-friendly plants to encourage endangered birds.
Sara takes wildflower tours through the bush on the farm, but she’s opening her home for a different reason this weekend - Sustainable House Day.
There’ll be sustainable houses full of great ideas opened up all over Perth and the state.
“Not everyone is going to build a house like this but they can see that ‘oh if I build it in a different orientation or if I have my bigger windows facing a different way I can get better warmth in winter (and be) cooler in summer’,” Sara said.